Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday issued its most definitive and biting criticisms of the unfolding crisis just its its south, in the large former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, which it should be remembered is the size of Europe in terms of land mass.
Echoing statements this week from embattled strongman Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who has labeled the raging and increasingly violent fuel price hike protests and riots as “terroristic” in nature and inspired by “outside” forces, Russia has described a “foreign-inspired attempt to use armed and trained groups of people” to overthrow the legitimate government.
“We consider the recent events in a friendly country to be a foreign-inspired attempt to use armed and trained groups of people forcibly to undermine the security and integrity of the state”, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.
“She stressed that Russia is interested in reinstating the status quo in Kazakhstan, and will assist Kazakh authorities in stopping the violence,” Russian media further cited her as saying.
Earlier in the day relatively small deployments of Russian paratroopers were filmed boarding military transport aircraft. This after the regional Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) alliance authorized a peace-keeping force on the ground. As we noted previously, there’s nothing so far to suggest that the Kremlin is deploying a very large force – also as it likely has its eyes still focused on the Ukraine crisis 2.0 and NATO eastward expansion.
A number of Western observers have noted the unlikelihood of Russia getting too bogged down the Kazakhstan situation. Given the expanse of the protests and unrest, any significant deployment and crackdown against the rioting would require a huge military and logistical effort.
Meanwhile, dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries – and also thousands of arrests – are being reported in the latest:
“The interior ministry said 2,000 people were arrested on Thursday, while the police spokesperson Saltanat Azirbek told state news channel Khabar-24 that “dozens of attackers were liquidated”. There were also reports of about 400 people in hospital. City officials in Almaty said 353 police officers had been injured and 12 killed, one of whom they claimed had been found beheaded.”
In particular the country’s largest city of Almaty is now scene of running gun battles in the streets between security forces and apparently armed groups.
It’s the rapidity of the unknown rioters being able to in some instances overrun police stations that’s causing some to question whether this is a more deeply organized effort than previously thought, since protests started last Saturday.
According to The Daily Mail, citing state sources, “Officials have said more than 1,000 people had been wounded so far in the unrest, with nearly 400 hospitalised and 62 in intensive care.”
In some instances, media pundits and independent geopolitical observers have increasingly openly alleged a foreign intelligence hidden-hand behind the unrest.
And another theory that’s emerged, though it remains to be seen or proven with evidence the degree to which there could be foreign elements involved in ratcheting the intensity of what started as fuel protests…